From Great Grandma to You

Epigenetic changes reach down through the generations

By Tina Hesman Saey, 19:46 PM March 20, 2013

Like many women with parents of the Mad Men generation, Susan Murphy grew up in a household full of cigarette smoke. Both dad and mom smoked heavily, even while Murphy was still in her mother’s womb.

“That explains a lot,” Murphy quips, poking fun at herself.

But Murphy isn’t worried about her own health. She’s fine. Her children aren’t, though. One boy died of cancer as a toddler. Another has autism. And her daughter has attention deficit disorder. Murphy knows the scientific evidence isn’t in...

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